Tech, Sex, and E-cigarettes: The Gendering of Vape Promotion on Instagram.

Journal of health communication(2022)

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The promotion of vape products on social media has been implicated in increasing rates of e-cigarette usage, particularly among youth and young adults. While research has examined overall trends in vape-related content across a number of platforms, the role that social media "influencers" play in promoting vaping and potentially augmenting this public health crisis has been insufficiently explored. The present study examined 44,052 Instagram posts by 60 male presenting and 60 female presenting vape influencers to understand how influencer gender mediates the performance of vape culture online. Our textual and visual analysis of these influencers' posts over one year revealed significant bifurcations based on gender. Independent sample t-tests showed statistically significant gender differences in word frequency. Male-presenting influencers tended to emphasize their expertise with vape devices as technologies, while female-presenting influencers tended to focus on their own appearance. Further, factor analysis indicated six major categories of textual features, and multiple linear regression tests showed varying levels of user engagement with the different categories across both genders. Chi-square tests indicated that female-presenting influencers highlighted their own bodies in the visual content of their posts, whereas male presenting influencers often posted images of vape devices or their component parts alone. These findings suggest that gender presentation plays an important role in shaping vape influencers' promotional tactics and vape-related content on Instagram, and also provides insights into what kinds of content receive the most user engagement. This study can therefore help inform interventions to mitigate the impact of social media vape promotion.
vape promotion,gendering,sex,e-cigarettes
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